Becoming a Local Care and Support Team (LCAST)29 Jul 2019
By Ashley Aitken
To be honest, I don’t think any of us can remember the exact point in time that we decided to make the jump to becoming a Local Care and Support Team (LCAST), but what we all do recall was the hushed whispers and the half conversations, testing the waters to gauge the rest of the colleagues’ thoughts. It was only at a team meeting with our then manager, Gemma, that it put the conversation on the table openly. From there, it was decided we would convene with the coaches and have a ‘no strings attached’ meeting.
John and Elaine came to Wardend and we packed nine support workers, two coaches, one team leader and a manager into a living room with enough seats for only six. If there was ever a team building exercise, this was it!
It was decided some point after that meeting in October that we’d go for it. This was when the nervous trepidation really set in, whilst we all awaited the Insights training at the end of February 2018. This felt like forever away but we decided to get Christmas and New Year out the way first. We all did our Insights questionnaire online and sent it off, not really knowing what to expect from it.
Let’s jump forward to our training days - we arrived at the hotel where it was being held, met with John and Elaine and learned so much over the two weeks of team building and Insights. Not only about ourselves and our team mates, but how to understand each other’s personalities and behaviours.
Our Insights questionnaires yielded a personalised in-depth booklet about ourselves, and I think everyone’s jaw hit the floor when we saw just how accurate these were. There was some hilarity as some of us read aloud sections of their own which could see in said person. This also started the beginning of us all really getting to understanding each other, what made us tick and how our behaviours could be perceived.
We had some team games and I’m not going to lie, the guess the shape game, was an absolute disaster, try being blind folded, attempting to match 2D shapes with another team mate, add then people talking at once and not just any old shapes like a square or circles. No, these resembled something a three year old had drawn. Safe to say we weren’t getting any prizes for that one but a few lessons were learned.
We worked on ‘what makes an effective team‘, ‘what makes an effective team member’, ‘challenges we’d likely have to face‘ and the making of our own team agreement.
Wardend Team Agreement
We take great pride in our team agreement and it’s something we often refer to. Even now, over a year later.
The Insights training has given us invaluable information on each other and a common ground to start on. Even with some of us working together for nearly a decade, we had so much to learn about one another. We all highly recommend the training if you get the opportunity, as I have said previously it has been invaluable in our team.
We had just begun our LCAST journey, and we were walking on cloud 9. There were so many ideas for things we could do, and things we could change. There was an air of optimism and I think just about everyone had something they wanted to get stuck into so we counted down the days until April 1st when our new contracts would kick in.
I went back and forth on whether or not putting this next part in was the right thing to do, but I think being as open and as transparent as we can is important, after all this was a huge part of our journey.
The highs and the lows…
The first of April came and went, in fact, to be honest, a fair few weeks went by and nothing felt any different, we all turned up for our shifts like we usually did, went about our work like we always had, don’t get me wrong some of us went on mentoring sessions for various things but nothing really seemed to change.
About six weeks after we officially became a LCAST, we had a complete disaster. Two team members went off sick for a couple of months each, and another unfortunately went off long term. We had tenant holidays and annual leave to contend with. By then, nearly overnight, we were 50+ staff hours down per week. We literally hit survival mode. There was plenty of talk of giving up, of throwing in the towel and handing it back and saying ‘thanks but no thanks’.
Aren’t we glad we didn’t. Two of our team members came back and the pressure lifted. Although, we still didn’t feel we were any further on. We reached out and got change and conflict training from our Branch Leader, Jayne and previous service manager, Gemma. They put together an ‘LCAST portfolio’. Everybody got a copy and we set to work together with a lot of open discussion. It was decided we would internally recruit another team member to ease the burden, and two team members were trained on the budget and contractual agreements which helped our understanding of the staffing more but the biggest lesson, we as team learned that it was okay to ask for help!
From there, we as a team, discussed moving forward and had our own team meeting in which we broke down everything that the service required to run effectively into specific roles and each team member had a specific job to do, to learn and focus on. This is what was missing. This was the game changer and this is when the change curve was obliterated.
We each took responsibility for our own roles, sourcing the training and upskilling we required to do it. We put our deadlines in the calendar and before long everything was running like clockwork. Everybody knew who to go to if they needed health and safety, rota or finance issues resolved. It kept nine team members very happy.
We are now nearly 15 months into being an LCAST, and the team is absolutely loving it. None of us would want to go back to the traditional model. We all see the way it benefits the people we support, making changes to the running of the service adapting to their needs. It has brought us so much closer as a team too and we have done some pretty amazing things this past year, none of which could have been achieved without becoming an LCAST.